National Day

The rain has stopped pouring down. Sunshine is returning to Warsaw, or at least it looked like that some minutes ago. Now I am not sure.

But our National Day celebrations, now being prepared in the Swedish Residence, will take place indoors, though having open doors to the garden. So I am less nervous for the weather than I have ever been this day the last seven years.

During my years in Warsaw we have celebrated our National day in different ways. Last year we opened up the Embassy and the Residence for 700 Poles, who got a chance to become acquainted with us and to see what our work here in Poland is all about. This year we are doing it in slightly different way. The openness was the starting point, since we offered a possibility to register on facebook until the event was fully booked a couple of days ago. And we decided to focus specifically on Swedish music in cooperation with Spotify, with the Swedish musicians Peder Hofmann and Jan Adefelt playing jazz before the DJ takes over until the event is coming to an end.

Similar preparations are now ongoing not only in Sweden but in many other countries where my colleagues are organising celebrations in different ways. I have seen it on facebook from all corners of the world e.g. Turkey, Colombia, Congo, Vietnam and Hungary. Our eldest daughter is taking active part in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. And in some countries the events took place earlier this week, Ukraine being among them.

I will share my impressions from this afternoon and evening in a new blog hopefully some time next week.

But the obvious question to many of us Swedes this day is the following: Why have you chosen June 6th?

From a historical perspective – partly of interest here in Poland – it can be noted that this particular day 491 years ago Gustav Wasa, grandfather of Zygmunt III, was elected King of Sweden. But perhaps more relevant is the fact that June 6th 1809 a new, more pluralistic Constitution was adopted that was one of the steps on the road to Swedish democracy as we know it today. It was actually still in force when I was young being replaced as late as June 6th forty years ago, when the present, fully modern Constitution was passed by Parliament.

Still, the whole idea of a Swedish National Day is fairly new. It dates back only to 1983. And June 6th became a national holiday as late as nine years ago.

But I believe it is gradually growing in significance. And we can learn from Poland what values this is all about. The difference between a closed and an open society, between dictatorship and pluralism, between censorship and freedom of speech, between a system that oppresses individuals and one that encourages them to fullfill their own dreams rather than the nightmares provided by totalitarian rulers.

The commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the D-day in Normandie, also taking place this June 6th, is another reminder of what has been at stake on our continent and the sacrifices made in the struggle for freedom.

Today we celebrate the open society that is Sweden. The Royal family arrived to us as French immigrants two hundred years ago. Our major football star was born in Malmö but has his roots in the Balkans. And thousands and thousands of Poles are on a daily basis making great contributions to our culture and economy. Without impulses and immigration from abroad Sweden would never have reached to where we are. Multiculturalism has moved us forward. Openness is an integrated element of Swedishness. And should always be.

So why June 6th? Beacuse democracy should be celebrated. Poland did so in an unforgettable way this week. We do it today, greatly inspired by what so many brave individuals managed to achieve in this country culminating early June 25 years ago.








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